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2019 NBA Combine: Prospects Who Hurt and Helped Themselves Most

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0 of 8Michael Hickey/Getty ImagesFront offices filled the Quest Multisport gym in Chicago to scout prospects through drills, athletic testing, scrimmages and interviews at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine.As always, some standouts showed more in this different setting than they did during the season. The games featured mostly second-round and G League talents, though a handful…
2019 NBA Combine: Prospects Who Hurt and Helped Themselves Most
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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Front offices filled the Quest Multisport gym in Chicago to scout prospects through drills, athletic testing, scrimmages and interviews at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine.

    As always, some standouts showed more in this different setting than they did during the season. 

    The games featured mostly second-round and G League talents, though a handful of players may still have moved up or onto boards entirely. Conversely, a few players hurt themselves with poor play, which could lead to certain names going back to school or falling in the draft.

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    NBA draft projection: Nos. 15-30

    The NBA invited 19-year-old Croatian Luka Samanic to the combine after he averaged 17.0 points at the U18 European Championships over the summer and had an efficient year with Olimpija in the Adriatic and Slovenian Leagues.

    He was impressive enough Thursday to skip Friday, just as Kyle Kuzma did in 2017 and Kevin Huerter in 2018 before both went in the first round. 

    The 6’11” forward, who was stroking threes during shooting drills, was the opening scrimmage’s best player. His versatility popped at both ends. He flashed ball-handling skills for shot creation. He burned his man in the post with a baseline spin into a layup. We saw tough drives and finishes, plus a three-point make. And he did an admirable job sliding his feet on defense and competing with toughness. 

    His game even matches what NBA teams look for in 2019—a big who can stretch the floor, attack closeouts and switch defensively.

    Arguably the week’s biggest winner, Samanic now looks poised to steal a first-round spot from an NCAA player.

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Projection: Second round

    Terence Davis is on the verge of validating the G League Elite Camp’s purpose all by himself.

    He’s landed firmly on the second-round map after he seemed like a long shot to be drafted a week ago. The 6’4½” off-guard was a factor in each of his four games, finishing the week with averages of 17.3 points and 5.0 rebounds between the combine and Elite Camp. 

    Being effective during each scrimmage made Davis more convincing. He flashed a little of everything— hard drives, confident shooting (four combined threes on Thursday and Friday), pesky defense and secondary playmaking ability. 

    Davis does lack traditional size for a 2, and he’s not an advanced creator. But he seems to check boxes with just enough authority to potentially carve out a supporting role.

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    David Dow/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Projection: Second round 

    After a poor scrimmage and measurements smaller than what Western Kentucky led scouts to believe, Charles Bassey could find himself falling on draft boards. 

    He shot 1-of-6 Thursday, came in at 6’10” in shoes and then decided to sit out Friday for unknown reasons. 

    Bassey did little in a game that featured players with whom he’ll be competing for draft looks. He lacks scoring versatility, passing instincts and switchability without possessing the athleticism that points to upside and buys prospects time with scouts.

    Bassey had one-and-done hype entering the season, particularly after his strong showing for the World Team at the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit. Despite a productive freshman year, he’s still made it difficult to identify any exciting, translatable skill or strength tied to his interior-oriented game. 

    It wouldn’t be surprising for Bassey to keep his name in the draft, but it may be difficult for him to draw first-round interest after he was clearly outplayed by second-rounders.

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Projection: No. 45-60

    From Day 1 of the G League Elite Camp, Tacko Fall quickly became a draw in the gym, even through a few clumsy sequences during scrimmages.

    Everywhere you turned, someone was talking about Fall and his record-shattering measurements: 7’7″ in shoes, 8’2¼” wingspan, 10’2½” standing reach, 288.8 pounds. 

    Teams wound up voting him into the NBA combine, which only helped increase his visibility and create more buzz. Fall made Neemias Queta (7’0¼”, 7’4¼” wingspan) look small Thursday. He dropped in layups above the rim without jumping and blocked shots using his palms.

    Scouts came away relatively encouraged about his mobility, talking about Fall as a “why not” option for teams drafting in the late 40s or 50s. 

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Projection: Nos. 45-60/undrafted

    Ruled ineligible for 2018-19 during the pay-for-play investigation, Dewan Hernandez still earned an invite to Elite Camp—a sign of NBA interest. He then converted that into a spot at the combine, where he continued to outproduce prospects who teams previously ranked higher.  

    In four scrimmages between the two events from Monday to Friday, Hernandez averaged 15.0 points and 7.8 rebounds by playing to his physicality and displaying effort in the paint. He did so with little flash. Hernandez consistently made plays around the basket just by hustling and timing his cuts, dives and crashes.

    He also put up solid measurements, checking in at 6’10¼”, 232.8 pounds with a 7’1¾” wingspan and 6.1 percent body fat. 

    Hernandez isn’t a lock to be drafted, but he’s put himself back on the map and should be one of the first calls made for summer league if he doesn’t get picked. 

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Projection: Mid-second round or return to school

    Neemias Queta popped up on the radar this year, standing out for his impressive physical profile and efficiency at Utah State. But he looked behind the other second-round prospects during scrimmages, totaling just three points between both games.

    Limited offensively, Queta’s finishing and shot-blocking aren’t likely enough to warrant first-round interest this year. Returning to school for a potential breakout sophomore campaign seems like the logical move, depending on Queta’s interest in more college versus developing in the G League. 

    He’d continue to draw scouts to Utah State games if he did choose to come back. Long-term potential remains intact, given his 7’0¼” size (with shoes), 7’4¼” wingspan, 9’3½” standing reach, 61.4 field-goal percentage and 3.5 blocks per 40 minutes.

    But watching him against second-round bigs, it was clear Queta isn’t a sure thing and needs more time to improve his skills and feel.

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Projection: Second round

    Voted to move on from Elite Camp, Cody Martin capitalized again Thursday and Friday during scrimmages at the NBA combine. 

    He looked confident and comfortable, totaling 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists between both games.

    The senior wing flashed versatility that distinguishes him from his twin brother, Caleb. Cody showed his ability to pass and pull up off the dribble. He also elevated above the rim multiple times on drives and putback opportunities. 

    Teams will want to look closer into Martin’s distance shooting during workouts, though he did take a step forward this past season by hitting a career-high 34 threes. And he appeared competent during drills, making 16 of 25 threes from the corners, wings and top of the key.

    The appeal to Martin still stems from his Swiss Army Knife potential. And he ultimately appears more draftable than he did a week ago, so he should consider his week in Chicago relatively successful. 

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    Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Projection: Nos. 45-60/undrafted 

    A bottom-tier athlete turning 22 in October, Dedric Lawson did little to improve his draft case in Chicago.

    He combined to shoot 2-of-8 inside the arc during both scrimmages, unable to diminish concern regarding his ability to create separation. 

    Lawson, whose 8.9 percent body fat was the third-highest, finished bottom three in the sprint, standing and max verticals and shuttle run. 

    He did make four threes, and his improved shooting gives him a better chance to carve out a role at the next level. But the athletic limitations won’t allow for much error. 

    Stats, measurements and athletic test results courtesy of NBA.com

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